Current Issue #477

Restaurant Review: Nido

Sia Duff

The former Hyde Park home of The Pot has transformed into a snug pasta and wine bar, proving once again that not all of Adelaide’s most exciting restaurants are in the CBD.

When I stroll into Nido on a memorably warm September evening, one of the first people I see is head chef Max Sharrad. But he’s not apron-clad, in his usual position running the pass. It appears it’s his night off and he’s having dinner just like everyone else in the almost-booked-out restaurant. Naturally, I wonder if his absence from the kitchen will have any impact on the night’s meal.

The former Shobosho head chef was named Young Chef of the Year in the 2018 Appetite for Excellence awards, which gave him the opportunity to stage at the industry-leading Noma in Copenhagen. He then took over The Pot in Hyde Park before it rebranded as pasta and wine bar Nido earlier this year.

We settle on a communal high table, bookended by two vases overflowing with native flowers. First things first: a drink. Sometimes I revel in thumbing through a novella-length wine list. Often I can’t be arsed. While Nido’s is refreshingly brief – just a couple of A5 pages – it’s anything by static. Our waitress says it’s rarely the same from day to day. She suggests a Sicilian red, Etna Rosso, which they’ve only just started selling by the glass because stock is running low.

Nido's “Rootello bonnato”
Sia Duff

When we dig into our starters, two things are clear: Sharrad has trained his kitchen team well, and no meal at Nido should be without gnocco fritto. After all, who would not order a hunk of deep-fried dough described by their waitress as the love of her life? Steam billows out as I tear it in half. Fresh out the fryer, it’s notably crisper and more golden than one I had here a few months ago, and the salt is so liberal it’s visible (in a good way). Inside, things are fluffy AF without compromising on chew. It’s wildly good as is, or you could use it to mop up almost anything on the starters section. Including the mysteriously named “rootello bonnato”.

For those unacquainted with Sharrad’s creation, it’s a reinterpretation of vitello tonnato – a Piedmontese dish of cold, sliced veal with a creamy, tuna-flavoured sauce. But you won’t find any veal or tuna on your plate. Intrigued? Likewise. Sharrad substitutes slithers of raw kangaroo and a bonito mayonnaise that, thankfully, is not too heavy on the bonito. Throughout are capers, fried and pickled shallots and grated cured egg yolk. Unlike the plating, these flavours aren’t delicate, but the balance is bang-on.

Then, eavesdropping, I hear the couple next to us order a meat dish from the fiamma (flame-grilled) section – to take away. When their waiter returns with the packaged-up meal, he relays reheating instructions from the kitchen for each of the dish’s individual components. Impressive.

Starters, steaks and service aside, it’s pasta time. That’s what reigns supreme here. A quick scroll through Nido’s Instagram page will give you a window into the arduous process. So do yourself a favour: if you’re off carbs, wait until you relapse to visit.

Nido
Sia Duff

For me, that’s no issue. But as a stubborn pre-teen it took my Nonna a good few years to make a spaghetti vongole-lover out of me. She eventually did, and now nostalgia almost always lures me to it. It’s the only kind of clamminess I enjoy. Nido’s version is souped up with fennel soffritto, pancetta and pangrattato (bread crumbs). I de-shell, swirl and bite off more than I can chew. For a split second I think I’ve encountered that object of dread: a sandy, gritty clam. But my dining partner kindly reminds me it’s those darn delicious pangrattato, not a rinsing hack job. My bad. The addition of pancetta makes it a little heavier than the fresh, parsley-packed dish I grew up with, but it’s easy to demolish nonetheless.

The maccheroni with braised lamb, peppers and chilli is just as good. Generously coating the pasta is tender, shredded lamb, and clusters of grated parmesan that slowly seep into the sauce. It’s richly flavoured, sure, but the chilli offers a welcome reprieve. And while one person may struggle to finish the whole bowl themselves, that’s no criticism. Some dishes are just best shared.

Sia Duff
Nido head chef Max Sharrad

Now, I’m aware a side of scorched, caramelised, pangrattato-dusted brussel sprouts is completely unnecessary in the context of this meal. But that word – “scorched” – gets me every time. I find myself oscillating from one pasta to the other, with a sprout in between. Weird palate-cleansing flex, I know, but it works. Somehow.

I selfishly swipe the last piece of maccheroni, and it’s not until then that I clock the orange light flashing through the restaurant. It’s coming from outside, where King William Road is in the throes of a mammoth multimillion dollar upgrade that will, in part, include a repaved main drag, aesthetically pleasing ‘streetscaping’ and a heap more on-street seating.

There’s nothing subtle about the works – especially once we’ve exhausted all edible distractions. And some traders on the strip have reportedly had their incomes slashed as a result. But on this particular night, Nido and nearby Joybird, a newly opened, fancy chicken shop by the Shobosho team, are heaving. And while the street-facing tables don’t have as nice an outlook as usual – yet – it seems no one’s too fussed. Least of all me.

Nido
Shop 2/160 King William Road, Hyde Park
8373 2044
nidobarpasta.com.au

Tomas Telegramma

See Profile

Next

Get the latest from The Adelaide Review in your inbox

Get the latest from The Adelaide Review in your inbox